Embracing the Transition to Electronic Security
Over fifty years ago, a group of leading Australian locksmiths had the vision to establish an Association to better serve its home-grown market. MLAA members got rid of the grey dustcoats for uniforms and offered end-users a higher degree of security with signatory restricted keying systems that allowed end users to authorise the production of extra keys. Association members worked with lock makers on the very important and necessary improvements that needed to be implemented, and they designed a series of unique profiles that limited unauthorised duplication of keys and at the same time resisted picking, impressioning and bumping.
As with all sectors of the consumer market, there has been continuous improvement as new technology becomes available. We have seen lever locks give way to pin tumbler and likewise lock bodies become electromechanical with electronics controlling the basic mechanical locking. Mechanical locks are used in conjunction with electromechanical strikes and the use of magnetic locking has become the norm in modern buildings. The control of access to all areas of buildings has gone from a physical key to an electronic token that uses proximity rather than insert, turn and remove. All controlled by computer and software. Ideally the traditional lock manufacturers, as they move from production of mechanical locks to electronic security, will maintain the Research and Development to ensure that their products can withstand all mechanical and electronic attacks.
This may need standards such as UL and VdS being written to protect from electronic hacking. Lock manufacturers will need to provide software to control their locks by electronic means. As we look for smaller computers and wireless connections our mobile phones are evolving to take over these functions. Mobile phones offer features that are well in excess of the basic voice phone that sat on our desk or screwed to the wall twenty years ago. Modern smartphones have replaced Cameras, TVs, Radios, Personal Digital Assistants, GPS, Compass, Health Monitoring equipment, Weather monitoring equipment, watches, tape measures, levels and with more and more apps available are replacing desktop and laptop computers.
Our Association is well-placed in this new era. Most of our business and trade members have kept pace with new technology and are the new security specialists. Not only are we ready to still open safes, pick locks and cut keys but also able to advise end-users on hack resistant options to meet new demands. We can offer locking solutions that interface with an array of user-friendly apps on smartphones. Security is enhanced by using Bluetooth and Near Field Communication to communicate with locking options that are out of sight and offer no keyway, keypad or exposed reader to be manipulated.
End users also want more control of their access systems and are looking for products they can set up and control rather than relying on outside technicians. Rather than seeing this trend as attacking our traditional roles, we need to see how we can partner with our customers to make the most of this new technology. As a wise woman once told me, we must progress and adapt if we do not wish to limit our business growth.
Cliff Forrester – Life Member